Sorry I'm a day late. I've been swamped with a deadline. However, Reluctant Hearts is completed *happy dance* I'm just doing the final edits before sending it off to my editor.
Meanwhile...here's the next chapter
Ryan’s radio came to life minutes after he settled himself in his patrol car. He was thinking of driving around downtown before heading to the west edge of town by the highway. A great place to catch speeders on a slow night. Especially since Charlie seemed to have taken the only excitement that’s been had around town in the past two days.
Reports of an explosion in an apartment building, echoed through the deafening silence. A fire on four of its floors. Immediately his heart stopped, his stomach dropping. Then he heard the address and he felt lightheaded, his vision blurring.
“No. No.” Ryan shook his head. Lights and sirens wailing, he made a U-turn and headed home.
The scene was horrific in Ryan’s eyes. There were three fire trucks, two ambulances, and crowds of people huddled behind yellow tape or by the ambulances. The fire was roaring as he stepped from his car, the flames licking up the walls like tongues.
“Hayes!” Over all the noise, it took the voice a few times to get his attention. Ryan turned toward the largest fire engine and found the Sheriff there.
Ryan rushed over, ignoring the questions. His eyes probed the crowd, but he didn’t see the face he looking for…or the one that was similar to his own.
“Where’s Zack? Was he up there? My God, I can’t believe I left him alone.” Tears once more blurred his vision. He blinked rapidly, wanting to blame the smoke rather than his emotions.
The Sheriff laid his hands on both of Ryan’s shoulders. “He’s fine. He wasn’t there when it happened.”
“Wasn’t there? Where was he? I told him not to go anywhere alone. I swear…” Then it hit him. Zack hadn’t been in their third floor apartment when the fire started. He was fine. “I don’t understand. What happened?” Even as he asked the questions, his eyes were searching the crowds again for his lover’s face.
“I’m not sure yet. The Fire Chief can’t get up there until the flames are out. Witnesses say that there was a loud boom. An explosion on the third floor, then the fire spread pretty quickly. One firefighter who’s been inside said that there could have some accelerant involved, which is why it spread so fast as the building is only a few years old.”
“So where is Zack?” He just couldn’t really concentrate not knowing where his lover was.
“Hopefully at the hospital by now.”
“What? You said he wasn’t there!” Ryan felt as if he was going to explode any moment. His fingers balled into fists at his side, but forced himself to refrain from slugging the older man. His boss.
“He wasn’t. He rode in the ambulance with Maria.”
Suddenly, Ryan noticed the deep creases of worry in the Sheriff’s expression. Holy shit. Maria? What in the world was she doing here?
“I don’t understand.”
The Sheriff took a deep breath then decided against it as the air was filled with smoke. “I called looking for Charlie. I’d had car troubles and needed assistance. I couldn’t reach Charlie and Zack insisted that he come out and help. What neither of us knew, was that Charlie had called Maria and asked if she could cut out of that show so she could stay with Zack until he could get off.”
Ryan felt his body grow cold. “And she was here when this started.”
The Sheriff nodded. “For some reason the elevator wasn’t working so she took the stairs. From what the paramedic could gather, she was at the door of the third floor when it blew.”
“Son of a whore.”
“Yeah.” The Sheriff shook his had.
“Does Charlie know?”
“Yes. I finally got a hold of him. He’s on the way to the hospital.”
Ryan scrubbed his palm over his neck. Until they had more information as to what caused it, no one could accuse anyone of anything. But deep down he knew that his brother was somehow connected.
The image of the package he’d picked up from the hall came to mind. It had Zack’s name on it. There was even the address of the supply company he got his materials from. But Rob would know that also. A bomb. They’d been sent a fucking bomb. And it was meant for Zack.
“Fuck me running.”